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Firm Ride Upsets New Car Owner

By Junior Damato, October 11th, 2014

strong>Dear Doctor: I just purchased a 2014 Honda Accord LX with the 4-cylinder. The suspension system in this car is horrid and I feel every bump. I investigated and learned that Honda replaced the front system with the MacPherson strut suspension from a double wishbone suspension system. Is there any way to correct the bumpy ride? Kenneth

Manufacturer photo: 2014 Honda Accord
Manufacturer photo: 2014 Honda Accord

strong>Dear Kenneth: A lot of the newer import vehicles have a firmer ride and low profile tires. The only way to soften the ride is an expensive tire replacement with a tire with a larger side wall. This is something that you have to get from a tire company not the dealer. It may involve switching to a smaller rim and larger tire to equal the same outside diameter within 1/4 of the factory size. Shop around for price.

strong>Dear Doctor: I notice that many of the newer models are using four-cylinder turbocharged engines. It seems that most manufacturers recommend the use of "premium" gasoline in these engines, which costs much more than regular gasoline. Is premium really necessary for the daily operation of these vehicles? Lloyd

strong>Dear Lloyd: Some of the small 4-6-8- and 12-cylinder turbocharged engines do require the use of premium gas and all require full-synthetic engine oil and each manufacturer has its own recommendation. To get the maximum performance the higher octane gas is needed. Premium gas burns hotter, cleaner, and slower than the regular 87- 89-octane. The higher octane can also add in gas mileage because of the slower burn time. The extra cents a gallon equals a large coffee once a week -- a small price to pay for the large benefit to the engine.

strong>Dear Doctor: My 1997 Ford Expedition 4.6L has 196,000 miles and a rod failed. I just had a shop put on new plug wires, spark plugs, and a water pump. They said timing caused the failure. Could the repairs I just had done to the motor cause the timing to change? Rick

strong>Dear Rick: I have seen multiple failures on both engines and transmissions shortly after having non-related repairs and services. I recently had a customer drop off a car and while the owner was there I went to move the car and the reverse band broke and the car would not back up. From the parts replaced, the only way a connecting rod would fail is if something like a small piece of metal, not carbon, fell down the spark plug hole opening. The engine would have made noise at the shop, which would have been heard. Other than that the work that was done would not have caused the rod failure. Once the engine is removed removing the oil pan, inspecting the oil pump screen for clogging (blocked with sludge), and checking the connecting rod bearing should reveal the reason for the failure.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2002 Buick Regal GS with about 110,000 miles. It will stall out on first attempt if re-started before the engine cools down. I changed all sensor/actuators on the throttle body, cleaned the throttle body with carbon spray. I have not changed the PVC or EGR. Any ideas? Matty

strong>Dear Matty: I would connect a scan tool and fuel pressure tester. I have seen a lot of mass air flow meters and fuel pump resistor failures on this model. There could also be a coolant sensor out of range that heats up past it's programmed value once the engine is shut down. Check if the security light is flashing on the dash cluster when starting and the engine stalls. A simple relearn could be the solution. Find a shop in your area that uses both Alldata and Identifix to help resolve these issues.

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2009 Chrysler Town & Country with the 3.8 engine. It has an intermittent starting problem. At times the engine cranks but does not start (hot or cold). After waiting a few seconds, it starts right up. Sometimes, it starts and stalls out. Then starts back up and runs great. The dealer has replaced the battery, fuel pump, checked for codes, fuel filter, to no avail. Plugs are clean. What do you think is the problem? Ben

strong>Dear Bill: I researched on Identifix and there are many possibilities, but more information is needed. Find another dealer or shop that will take the time and connect both a scan tool and fuel pressure tester to the vehicle. Then you drive the van and when it does not start you can record the functions and then bring the van back to the shop. You can also leave the car at the shop and let the technician drive the van back and forth to work to record the no-start condition when it occurs.

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